|C. S. Lewis
Walter Hooper (editor)
Out of the Silent Planet
Copyright © 1938
|The whole point about the army is that you are never alone for a moment and can never choose where youre going or even what part of the road youre walking on. On a walking-tour you are absolutely detached. You stop where you like and go on when you like. As long as it lasts you need consider no one and consult no one but yourself.
|He had read of Space: at the back of his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds. He had not known how much it affected him till nownow that the very name Space seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam. He could not call it dead; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment. How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean the worlds and all their life had come? He had thought it barren: he saw now that it was the womb of worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the earth with so many eyesand here, with how many more! No: Space was the wrong name. Older thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply the heavens [...]
It was only many days later that Ransom discovered how to deal with these sudden losses of confidence. They arose when the rationality of the hross tempted you to think of it as a man. Then it became abominablea man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat. But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to haveglossy coat, liquid eye, sweet breath and whitest teethand added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view.
|It was the difference between a landsman in a sinking ship and a horseman on a bolting horse: either may be killed, but the horseman is an agent as well as a patient.
To every man, in his acquaintance with a new art, there comes a moment when that which before was meaningless first lifts, as it were, one corner of the curtain that hides its mystery, and reveals, in a burst of delight which later and fuller understanding can hardly ever equal, one glimpse of the indefinite possibilities within.
text checked (see note) Feb 2005
The Dark Tower
(unfinished sequel, c. 1938-39)
I mean that the further I looked into it the more clearly I saw that the mystical experience took you out of time altogether into the timeless, not into other times, which was what I wanted; now and whats amusing you, Ransom?
Excuse me, said Ransom. But it is funny, you know. The idea of a man thinking he could become a saint as a minor detail in his scientific training. You might as well imagine you could use the stairs of heaven as a short cut to the nearest tobacconists. Dont you see that long before you had reached the level of timeless experience you would have had to become so interested in something else or, frankly, Someone Else that you wouldnt be bothering about time-travel?
|A man cant be taken to hell, or sent to hell: you can only get there on your own steam.
|She was so free to talk about the things her grandmother could not mention that Ransom once said he wondered if she were free to talk about anything else.
text checked (see note) Feb 2005
Copyright © 1944 by Clive Staples Lewis
|I suppose every one knows this fear of getting drawn inthe moment at which a man realises that what had seemed mere speculations are on the point of landing him in the Communist Party or the Christian Churchthe sense that a door has just slammed and left him on the inside.
Oh, theyll put all sorts of things into your head if you let them, said Ransom lightly. The best plan is to take no notice and keep straight on. Dont try to answer them. They like drawing you into an interminable argument.
|[...] a sceptical friend of ours called McPhee was arguing against the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the human body. I was his victim at the moment and he was pressing on me in his Scots way with such questions as So you think youre going to have guts and palate for ever in a world where therell be no eating, and genital organs in a world without copulation? Man, yell have a great time of it! when Ransom suddenly burst out with great excitement, Oh, dont you see, you ass, that theres a difference between a trans-sensuous life and a non-sensuous life? That, of course, directed McPhees fire to him. What emerged was that in Ransoms opinion the present functions and appetites of the body would disappear, not because they were atrophied but because they were, as he said engulfed. He used the word trans-sexual I remember and began to hunt about for some similar words to apply to eating (after rejecting trans-gastronomic), and since he was not the only philologist present, that diverted the conversation into different channels. [...] But perhaps the most mysterious thing he ever said about it was this. I was questioning him on the subjectwhich he doesnt often allowand had incautiously said, Of course I realise its all rather too vague for you to put into words, when he took me up rather sharply, for such a patient man, by saying, On the contrary, it is words that are vague. The reason why the thing cant be expressed is that its too definite for language.
|There was more than one reason, and there is one I know and cannot tell to you, and another that you know and cannot tell to me.
Didnt we agree that God is a spirit? Dont you worship Him because He is pure spirit?
Good heavens, no! We worship Him because He is wise and good. Theres nothing specially fine about simply being a spirit. The Devil is a spirit.
|Indeed no imagined horror could have surpassed the sense which grew within him as the slow hours passed, that this creature was, by all human standards, inside outits heart on the surface and its shallowness at the heart. On the surface, great designs and an antagonism to Heaven which involved the fate of worlds: but deep within, when every veil had been pierced, was there, after all, nothing but a black puerility, an aimless empty spitefulness content to sate itself with the tiniest cruelties, as love does not disdain the smallest kindness?
|[...] Ransom had been perceiving that the triple distinction of truth from myth and of both from fact was purely terrestrialwas part and parcel of that unhappy division between soul and body which resulted from the Fall. Even on earth the sacraments existed as a permanent reminder that the division was neither wholesome nor final. The Incarnation had been the beginning of its disappearance.
|The whole distinction between things accidental and things designed, like the distinction between fact and myth, was purely terrestrial. The pattern is so large that within the little frame of earthly experience there appear pieces of it between which we can see no connection, and other pieces between which we can. Hence we rightly, for our use, distinguish the accidental from the essential. But step outside that frame and the distinction drops down into the void, fluttering useless wings.
|In both cases the thing had seemed a sheer impossibility: he had not thought but known that, being what he was, he was psychologically incapable of doing it; and then, without any apparent movement of the will, as objective and unemotional as the reading on a dial, there had arisen before him, with perfect certitude, the knowledge about this time tomorrow you will have done the impossible. The same thing happened now. His fear, his shame, his love, all his arguments, were not altered in the least. The thing was neither more nor less dreadful than it had been before. The only difference was that he knewalmost as a historical propositionthat it was going to be done. He might beg, weep, or rebelmight curse or adoresing like a martyr or blaspheme like a devil. It made not the slightest difference. The thing was going to be done. There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. it
|There was, no doubt, a confusion of persons in damnation: what Pantheists falsely hoped of Heaven bad men really received in Hell. They were melted down into their Master, as a lead soldier slips down and loses his shape in the ladle held over the gas ring. The question whether Satan, or one whom Satan has digested, is acting on any given occasion, has in the long run no clear significance.
|But where had the horror gone? The creature was there, a curiously shaped creature no doubt, but all loathing had vanished clean out of his mind, so that neither then nor at any other time could he remember it, nor ever understand again why one should quarrel with an animal for having more legs or eyes than oneself.
|And it appeared to Ransom that there might, if a man could find it, be some way to renew the old Pagan practice of propitiating the local gods of unknown places in such fashion that it was no offence to God Himself but only a prudent and courteous apology for trespass.
Be comforted, said Malacandra. It is no doing of yours. You are not great, though you could have prevented a thing so great that Deep Heaven sees it with amazement. Be comforted, small one, in your smallness. He lays no merit on you. Receive and be glad. Have no fear, lest your shoulders be bearing this world. Look! it is beneath your head and carries you.
|There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it, as men by sleeping lose the knowledge of sleep.
[...] what you call the beginning we are accustomed to call the Last Things.
I do not call it the beginning, said Tor the King. It is but the wiping out of a false start in order that the world may then begin. As when a man lies down to sleep, if he finds a twisted root under his shoulder he will change his placeand after that his real sleep begins. Or as a man setting foot on an island, may make a false step. He steadies himself and after that his journey begins. You would not call that steadying of himself a last thing?
text checked (see note) Feb 2005; Jun 2009
Background graphic copyright © 2003 by Hal Keen